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My guilty pleasure? I thought I didn’t have one, until I got a big telly for my birthday

The Guardian logo The Guardian 19/03/2021 Coco Khan
a display screen: Photograph: Alamy © Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Alamy

Recently, I stumbled upon a Twitter conversation about “YouTube guilty pleasures”. I clicked, and happily lost an hour watching people citing funny TV outtake videos and pop stars singing covers.

I’ve always found it strange that people feel guilty or embarrassed about harmless fun. I tell myself I see through it: that the notion a woman mustn’t eat cake is more about patriarchy than personal responsibility; and deriding certain music is, at worst, elitist and, at best, grouchy. I also suspect I just don’t have space for guilty feelings around eating an eclair and exercising to Little Mix, what with all these other guilts to worry about. (Thanks, religious upbringing!)

a display screen: ‘I grew up in a house where the TV was the centrepiece.’ © Photograph: Alamy ‘I grew up in a house where the TV was the centrepiece.’

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That is, until a giant package arrived on my birthday with a note from three relatives: “Had a whip-round to get you this because you’d never buy it for yourself.” Inside was a widescreen TV.

This, I realised, was my guilty pleasure. I adore big tellies. I grew up in a house where the TV was the centrepiece. (At one point, we rented a set that you had to put coins in to watch, and I learned to fish out the pounds and reuse them – my single greatest achievement to date.) Even today, being near a big HD screen provokes oohs and aahs. But somewhere along the way, a chip formed on my shoulder. The social conditioning worked: I fretted that a big TV looked tacky.

What else do I love that I hide from myself, out of guilt or embarrassment, I wonder? Because, as I move my streaming to the shiny flatscreen, I realise that a guilty pleasure can take many forms, and they’re all as innocent as each other. “I should have done this sooner,” I think, basking in the blue light. Why feel guilty?

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